King George V class battleships

The King George V class battleships were slightly improved versions of the previous Orion class ships. They used the same arrangement of turrets (two pairs of superfiring turrets fore and after and one turret amidships), carrying 13.5in guns.

They were originally constructed with their mast behind the fore funnel, as on the Orion class, but during construction it was moved forward, avoiding the problems with smoke that made sighting difficult from the earlier ships.

HMS Audacious
HMS Audacious

HMS Audacious was the only British dreadnought lost to enemy action during the First World War. On 27 October 1914, while the Grand Fleet was based on the west coast of Scotland, she ran into a German mine. Twelve hours later, despite efforts to tow her to safety (and after her crew had been evacuated), she exploded and sank. Her loss was kept secret for some time, partly because it reduced the Grand Fleet’s advantage over the High Sea’s Fleet to a dangerously narrow margin and partly because she sank during the last efforts to keep Turkey from siding with Germany in the war.

The surviving members of the class served in the Second Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet during the First World War, taking part in the battle of Jutland. After the war Ajax remained in service until 1924, serving in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. King George V was used as a gunnery training ship from 1923 to 1926. Centurion was converted to act as a radio-controlled target ship, surviving into the Second World War. She was then used as a decoy ship for HMS Anson, as an AA battery in the Suez Canal and was finally used as part of the Mulberry harbour during the D-Day invasions.

HMS Audacious in rough seas
HMS Audacious in rough seas

HMS Audacious - the 13.5in guns
HMS Audacious - the 13.5in guns

Plans of Orion Class Battleships
Plans of Orion Class Battleships

HMS King George V from the left
HMS King George V from the left

Displacement (loaded)

25,700t deep load

Top Speed



6,730 nautical miles at 10kts

Armour - deck


 - belt


 - bulkheads


 - barbettes


 - turret faces



597ft 6in


Ten 13.5in 45 calibre Mk V guns
Sixteen 4in 50 calibre Mk VII gusn
Four 3pdr guns
Three 21in submerged torpedo tubes (2 beam, 1 stern)

Crew complement






Ships in class

HMS King George V
HMS Centurion
HMS Audacious
HMS Ajax

Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (8 November 2007), King George V class battleships ,

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